Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada
Directory   Search  

Evangelical Lutheran Women

302 - 393 Portage Avenue,
Winnipeg, Manitoba. R3B 3H6

Executive Director: Ruth Vince [e-mail]
Phone: (204) 984-9160.
Fax: (204) 984-9162.
Publication: Esprit [e-mail]
Website: www.elw.ca





Background and Preparation for Ordained Ministry

Prior occupations:

  • On average, respondents had 2.8 occupations prior to preparing for ordained ministry
  • Prior occupations ranged from management and administration to trades and homemaker. The most common was a professional occupation.

Prior education:

  • Nearly 74% of respondents had obtained a minimum of a bachelor's degree before enrolling in seminary, completed at average age of 28 years (range of 19-53 years)


  • The primary motivation for beginning theological studies was reported by 66% of the respondents as being called to ordained ministry.
  • For 33% of the respondents their motivation changed during seminary, mainly in positive ways such as being more affirmed, although their comments indicated that they often experienced confusion and a struggle to understand what the call meant.

Influential persons:

  • The first most influential person in the decision to enter seminary was the home pastor for 19% of the respondents, a person other than those listed on the question (19%) and other clergy (16%).
  • Female clergy were mentioned as the first most influential person for 12% of the respondents
  • The second most influential person in the decision to enter seminary was other clergy (24%), a friend (15%) and professor (14%).
  • Female clergy were mentioned as the second most influential person by 8% of the respondents.
  • The third most influential person in the decision to enter seminary was friend (25%), other clergy (22%) and home pastor (14%).
  • Female clergy were mentioned as the third most influential person by 6.3% of the respondents.
  • 46% of the respondents had family members who are/were involved in religious vocations.


  • 81% of the respondents completed their theological education at a Lutheran seminary in Canada, 7% at a Lutheran seminary outside of Canada, and 12% at a seminary other than either of the above.
  • 52% of the respondents began seminary between 1949 and 1985 and 48% between 1986 and 1995.
  • Nearly 47% completed seminary before 1990 and 53% after 1990.
  • 12% received a Bachelor of Theology, 79% a Master of Divinity and 13% another theological degree

Curriculum content:

  • The majority of women (63%) reported that the curriculum content at seminary was either very relevant (19%) or somewhat relevant (44%) to women in seminary studies, although the comments reflected a variety of perspectives about its relevance.
  • 10% reported that the seminary curriculum content was somewhat irrelevant to women and 14% reported it was very irrelevant.

Feminist issues:

  • More than 75% of the women reported feminist issues were somewhat or very important to them. The nature of feminist issues were varied as reflected in the comments: inclusive language, women's role and identity, role models, feminist theology.
  • The context and cultural timing were important for the woman's level of awareness of feminist issues. Some respondents discovered at seminary that these were issues.
  • Some women were concerned about the gender debate becoming counter productive for the mission of the Holy Spirit.


  • Nearly 90% of the respondents reported that they perceived that seminary administration and staff were either very supportive or somewhat supportive to women preparing for ordained ministry.
  • While administration and staff were supportive, women's comments reflected that they often felt that administration and staff struggled to expand the male student model of seminary education.
  • 92% of respondents perceived that teaching faculty were either very supportive or somewhat supportive to women preparing for ordained ministry. Comments indicated that faculty supportiveness varied depending upon the person and the context.
  • Comments noted different forms of support: intellectual and practical. Often the practical support (e.g. childcare, policy revision) was lacking. Some women appreciated not being singled out for support by gender.


  • Nearly 97% of the women had completed an internship and of those who had, 51% reported that it prepared them very well for their future as an ordained woman in ministry. Only 4% reported it prepared them very poorly.
  • Ninety percent of the respondents to this question had received a full internship stipend. Comments ranged from the internship being "the most spiritually profound year of my life" to one where the woman was harassed and expected to "be one of the boys".

Life changes during seminary:

  • For 23% of the respondents, their marital status changed during seminary training. Of those who experienced change, 61% had married, one had separated, three had divorced and three had other changes to their marital status.
  • 56% of the respondents experienced a household move to attend seminary.

Stressors and Supports During Seminary


  • The average number of stressors reported as being experienced by respondents at seminary was 2.8 (range 0-8) out of a possible 12.
  • Financial stressors were most frequently reported (55%) followed by pastoral identity issues (35%), family stressors (33%), relationships with classmates (29%) and academic stressors ( 25%).
  • In addition to the 12 listed, many respondents added other stressors to the list.


  • The average number of supports reported as being experienced by respondents at seminary was 6.1 (range 1-15) out of a possible 16.
  • Four sources of support were mentioned by the largest percentage of respondents: seminary classmates (74%), friends (70%), prayer (66%), and seminary professor(s) (64%).
  • In general women had a large network of support at seminary with 12 of the 16 listed supports being mentioned by over 20% of the respondents.
  • Only professional support, spiritual director, other, and study group were mentioned by 11% or fewer of respondents.
  • Comments indicated that congregational support was limited.
  • Some women noted in their comments that it was necessary for them to be responsible for developing support networks.

to The Call Process

In full communion with The Anglican Church of Canada
© Copyright 2007 Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada